As you enter the job market, (for the first time or after not searching for a while) you might find that there are a lot of buzzwords thrown around, including the terms career and job. You might be looking for a career, but you aren't going to enter the career market! Decide if you are looking for a job or a career today, and how to get the position you want.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a job is a piece of work that you do because of your occupation. A job also describes paid employment. A career, according to the OED, is a "person's course or progress through life." This article defines job as the place where you are employed, and career as the field in which you work.
Even though you might have lost your job, you may still have a career. For instance, if you are an x-ray technician who has been laid off, chances are that you will be able to find new work in the field. Your job might change slightly: you might become a dental x-ray technician, or a veterinary x-ray technician rather than a hospital x-ray technician, but you will still remain an x-ray technician.
You can choose to change either your job or your career. For instance, you might still want to have your career as a computer technician, but you want to advance to a higher paying and more prestigious job. This would mean finding a new a job and quitting your current job. Conversely, you might feel that you want to change your career. Perhaps you no longer feel that you want to be a computer technician and instead you would like to become a journalist. Career-changes are more time-consuming that job-changes because they often require training. You will find yourself looking for experience in a field with which you don't have experience. Neither career-changes nor job-changes are impossible, and often they bring much happiness.
When you are looking for a new job, it is important to consider what this means for your career. Some people choose not to have a career. Rather than having an over-arching goal in life, or in the field in which they wish to specialize, they would rather simply move from job to job. They might wait tables for a few years, then work as a receptionist, then work in retail.
You can, however, choose to have a career. In order to have a career, you need to have a plan. What are your interests? What would you like to be paid? Once you have planned your goals, you might have to take certain steps to achieve them. It is all well and good to watch a few episodes of Law & Order and then decide that you want to be a high-paid lawyer, but the reality of the matter is that you will have to go to law school for years, which is an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Also, you might find that a real-life courtroom isn't as stimulating as a courtroom drama series. So if you have set a career goal, speak to people in that career. Volunteer or intern in that environment so that you know what to expect in your future life.
You can also create a career out of a job. Perhaps you work as an assistant in an office. If you want to become a sales representative, you might need to take some courses. You might need to put in a few years behind the front desk. Ask your supervisor what opportunities you have for advancement, and how you can achieve it. Another way to create a career out of a job is to work in retail and accept promotions that you get to management. Management is often more work and more hours, but the higher pay and possibility for promotion might appeal to you.
Some people choose to work a job while they are trying to create a career. Many students work summer jobs that are not related to their field. They might want the break from the same material, or they might not be able to find a job in their field until they have completed their degree. If you take a job, consider how it affects your career. Are you biding your time there until you can break into a separate market? If so, when and how will you make your move to your career? Many people work at a job while they search for a career; if you don't keep your ultimate goals in your mind, you might end up staying at the job you don't particularly care for for much longer than you had originally planned.
There are careers that are often begun later in life. Many careers in ministry are begun after retiring from a first career. A career in politics can similarly begin after having a career in a different field.
Career planning, like all planning, takes both short- and long-term thinking. Make your goals accordingly. Write down your goals so that you can refer back to them and see how you are progressing.
While you are looking for a job, always think about your career. You will be able to find your ideal job if you work diligently and are not afraid of a few rejections. So go find that perfect job, or simply find a job while you work on building the career of your dreams.